Tao  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Tao is a concept found in Taoism, Confucianism, and more generally in ancient Chinese philosophy and East Asian religions. While the word itself translates as 'way', 'path', or 'route', or sometimes more loosely as 'doctrine' or 'principle', it is often used philosophically to signify the fundamental or true nature of the world.

In Taoism, Tao both precedes and encompasses the universe. As with other nondualistic philosophies, all the observable objects in the world - referred to in the Tao Te Ching as 'the named' or 'the ten thousand things' - are considered to be manifestations of Tao, and can only operate within the boundaries of Tao. Tao is, by contrast, often referred to as 'the nameless', because neither it nor its principles can ever be adequately expressed in words.

While the Tao cannot be expressed, Taoism holds that it can be known, and its principles can be followed. Much of Taoist writing focuses on the value of following the Tao - called Te (virtue) - and of the ultimate uselessness of trying to understand or control Tao outright. This is often expressed through yin and yang arguments, where every action creates a counter-action as a natural, unavoidable movement within manifestations of the Tao.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Tao" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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